Thursday, March 8, 2012

From the Tail Waggin Knitter

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 2012 Tired = Happy It is a common saying amongst the dog community that "a tired dog is a happy dog". This simply means that when a dog is given proper mental and physical stimulation as an output for their energy, they are more balanced, relaxed, and attentive throughout the day. This concept is equally applicable to children and I go to great lengths daily to ensure that I have a happily exhausted child. I have had the pleasure of working with many different dog breeds (and mixtures of various breeds). Some where high energy dogs, others were more laid back. I have also worked with many different age groups...from puppy to senior. It should come as no surprise that the younger, more high energy dogs required greater physical stimulation to help them stay focused, but what might not be common knowledge is that they also required mental stimulation to keep them happy and attentive. Many people understand the importance of physically exercising their dogs by taking them for a brisk walk, tossing the ball around the backyard, or letting them wrestle with other furry friends at the local park. However, what they fail to provide is the necessary mental exercise like a brief training session or puzzle toys. The same is true even for the older or more inactive dogs, whilst they may not desire a long jog around the neighborhood, they showed great improvement when given "jobs" to mentally stimulated them. I give my senior Dachshunds a Kong every morning for breakfast. They have to work at getting their morning meal and they LOVE it. Since Nicholi has health problems that make it difficult for him to go on evening walks, I work him on his obedience lessons...and then pull him in a wagon for our evening walks (old dogs still like to sniff the outdoors and check out the world...even if it means riding around in a big red wagon). Keeping my dogs happy is puppy stuff compared to keeping my child blissful. I jokingly call her the Border Collie of children. She is vastly intelligent, very sensitive, extremely active, and gets bored easily. Her mind is always working! Even as an infant, she required more stimulation than the average baby. I would see other mothers put their little ones down and the baby would be content to look off into space for 30 minutes. Not my baby. She required constant interaction...a shiny toy, movement, physical contact, change of scenery. By no means am I complaining. I enjoy a good challenge and she has been the most wonderfully rewarding challenge of my life. My husband and I quickly learned that in order to have a relaxing evening around the house, we needed to get our darling daughter out for some fresh air and fun during the day. Our weekends consist of long family walks at the park, trips to the local zoo or aquarium, a game of kick ball in the yard, a romp at the playground with other kids, a stop by the children's museum, time to garden in the backyard, or a splashing good time at the beach. Additionally, we never pass up an opportunity for education. We talk about animals, numbers, letters, places, people...everything. Around the house, we provide different mentally stimulating puzzles, an easel for creativity, dress-up clothes to boost imagination, and plenty of toys which I rotate so they seem "new". Oh, and we watch TV too. I know that television viewing is frowned upon in some circles, but there are many educational shows on Nick Jr. and Sprout. During the week, our child goes to a wonderful preschool that focuses on the importance of education through play and fun. There is outside playtime 2x per day, music class, library time, dance, Spanish lessons and Chapel too. All of these things combine to create a child that is balanced, relaxed, and attentive throughout the day. It also creates a calm, loving, close-knit household and much welcomed downtime at the end of the day for all. So the next time your little one (be it dog or child) is driving your crazy, take them out for a nature walk and teach them something new along the way because tired equals happy.

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